Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I am that

I recently wrote about doing too much and trying to be superwoman.  In the short term after the post, the problem got a bit worse, and I blame the work-related training that I attended near the end of April.  It was basically an extended oooh-rah session to get us new scientists excited about working for the organization (and familiar with the rules so that we stay out of trouble).  As the information simmered on my brain over the next week, my struggle to find my familiar balance temporarily worsened.

Familiar balance:  Just do your best, Heather.  You always do a great job.  Good things will come your way.

Ooh-rah balance:  Don't be satisfied with your best.  Try to do one better than your best in everything.  That's how you get promoted.

Decontaminating my brain from the ooh-rah balance has been a slow process, but I'm happy to announce that great strides are being made.  Helpful milestones along the way included:
  • I served as an expert in agriculture (specifically agricultural microbiology) and a roundtable moderator at the first ever World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute.  When I was invited to do this, I thought they were ridiculous to invite me because I don't know anything about agriculture.  Well, it turns out that I actually do know a fair bit about agriculture, and of course I know a lot about some specific things.  Additional useful things about me are that I'm a fast reader (I had to skim a 3-5 page paper in 3 minutes while the student verbally presented it and then ask questions about it, N=20 students), I'm supportive, I'm constructively critical, and I'm a small town success story (the youth were high school-ers from around the state).  Importantly, as I sat in the first of two full rows of experts (N=at least 50 experts) I realized that I was one of the youngest experts and that there were at most 10 female experts.  This showed me that it was important for me to be an expert if for no other reason than to inspire the young women of Iowa.  So I put on my expert shoes, exuded confidence but not too much, and smiled because I love being a scientist.  I am trying to continue walking in my expert shoes.   
  • I caught a bit of an episode of Talk of the Nation on NPR the other day about things you won't hear in a commencement speech.  Here's the piece of advice from Charles Wheelan that I internalized: 
It comes from some advice that was actually given to me by a talk show host in Chicago. It's a live TV show. And about 30 seconds before air time, when you're nervous and worried about falling off your stool with everything else, he leans over to the guest and he says, don't try to be great. And the reason it was so effective is that it makes you far less nervous. At that point, you don't have to worry about being the best guest ever. You can say, look, I'll be solid. That was what he says, just be solid, because at that point, it's in your control. You know the material. You don't have to be wonderful. ...
Just be solid.  I love it. 
  •  In yoga this week we learned a chant, saying "so" and "hum" silently on every inhale and exhale, respectively.  You breath slowly and deeply, and think these words in your mind while you clear away the mind debris.  It means I Am That.  It means, accept who you are, accept what you do, accept your greatness, accept your perfection.  
  • My sister Hilary a baby yesterday!  Babies always put things in the right perspective.  
My stepmom Barbara and I with baby Heath!  He is so wonderful!


  1. What a darling picture Heather!! Loving the hairstyle! Super cute.

  2. Totally agree about the hairstyle. When you visited I thought you rocked the scarf headband but I forgot to mention it. I hope things really start to calm down for you soon!

  3. You ARE all that. . . . reminds me of a favorite poem by James Broughton -

    This is It
    and I am It
    and You are It
    and so is That
    and He is It
    and She is It
    and It is It
    and That is That

    O it is This
    and it is Thus
    and it is Them
    and it is Us
    and it is Now
    and Here It is
    and Here We are
    so This is It

    1. Thank you for this, Lori. I love it.

  4. Midlife MidWest's favorite poem reminds me of Abbott & Costello's - Who's on first, What's on second, and I don't know is on third.


    1. Nice, dad. I had forgotten how funny the whole skit is.